Tag Archives: juggling

Day #38 – Can I Open Up?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 2, 2015

ocean shore and shells

Day #38 – Can I Open Up?

I am guilty, I admit it. I have quickly responded “I’m fine!” to the question “How are you?” Even when I was not, really, fine.

Sometimes, I knew that the person asking was only looking for a quick answer. Even, a superficial answer. Merely passing the time of day. Occasionally, I suspected the person asking me the question was making acceptable or expected social noises. (You can feel in your gut and know deep down when that happens. I don’t need to spell it out.)

But sometimes. Sometimes. The person was truly, honestly looking for information. Wishing for a connection. Striving to develop that relationship. And I? I was having none of it. Or, perhaps even worse, I just did not have time.

Mea culpa, Lord. Mea culpa.

At least I regularly show others that I am interested in their extended answers! When I do the same thing, ask the same questions, I sometimes get the long answer from my conversation partner, and that’s okay. Sometimes, it is more than okay. Showing emotion and crying and letting down one’s guard? Totally okay, as far as I am concerned.

Goodness knows that I have sometimes been guilty of it, and answered back in a dismissive or evasive response. Or, simply been too busy to engage.

My current job does complicate things, though. I am a pastor at a local church. I do try to be accessible, open, affirming, nurturing, and interested in everyone I meet. I really do try! Yet, I need to maintain some degree of professionalism. Remain warm and engaged, with a healthy dose of empathetic understanding. Plus, balance that with some basic relational, psychological and emotional engagement principles. It is a juggling, balancing act, to be sure!

Thank goodness that I have some good friends and acquaintances outside of my work. I especially appreciate the people I am now connected to through the Internet. Through Facebook, and Twitter. Two particular groups of people allow me to be honest, open and genuine. I can engage in lively debate, friendly (sometimes snarky) banter, and downright foolishness, if I want to! I feel I can lay down my cards on the table, and don’t need to be as careful of professional boundaries. What freedom!

So, yes. I have been aware of the ubiquitous “How are you?” and the tepid response “I’m fine” for the past few years. And God is working with me, with that. God really is. I know. I do appreciate the reminder. Good to be brought back to what is important in life. Again. Thanks, God!


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Regarding De-cluttering

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 15, 2014

thank You Lord

Regarding De-cluttering

In my prayer time for the past number of weeks, I’ve been occasionally praying through an excellent little book. (with a time-out for Advent, when I used an Advent devotional.) It’s what a book on prayer ought to be: helpful, thought-provoking, insightful. And the author even has a gentle sense of humor. As I read through chapter 25 yesterday morning, I came to a full stop. Not even a yield sign, but a full-fledged red octagonal sign with the word “STOP” emblazoned on it.

The chapter was called “Renunciation.” The author suggested his readers subtract certain things from their lives. This was it. Stop. This statement touched me deeply. I had to think about it for several long minutes. When I finally began reading again, he gave several examples of possible things or practices or habits that readers could renounce. Good suggestions.

My life is somewhat cluttered. This has never particularly bothered me, as it would certain of my extended relatives. (Three of my aunts, now deceased, kept immaculate homes. But not my mother. And not I.) But as I age, I am becoming more inclined to streamline my life. De-clutter.

I have a number of the classic fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul speaks of in Galatians 5. Except for self-control. I keep falling down, tripping up on self-control. I’ve been going to my spiritual director for almost ten years now. She and I have had discussions about this area of my spiritual (and physical) life. Over this time period, I have attempted to exercise self-control in one, two, or more areas for some months at a time. I do well for a short while, maybe even a month or two longer. Eventually, I can’t do it any more. I can’t continue juggling. (Although, I am succeeding in several areas right now. May I be able to continue, God! Please! Please??)

One of my daughters and I cleaned our apartment over the holidays. And for the most part, it has stayed clean. Hasn’t gotten re-cluttered. It’s much the same with my spiritual life. Over the fall, I have been more intentional about regular prayer and meditation. I also started an intercessory prayer ministry at my church, where I’m coordinator and facilitator. I have consistently prayed six days out of seven, most weeks in the past months, and a few weeks I prayed every day. Yay, me! This track record is fabulous!

It isn’t that I shy away from prayer, or fear getting close to God. No. That isn’t it. My life is just too cluttered. Full of stuff. Some of it is needful. Work is necessary, for example. Very true! But other than that, my life could lighten up. (So could I, physically. Lose at least fifteen or twenty pounds.) I was convicted, big time. I need to de-clutter.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the kind, admonishing words of Rev. Howell. I need to subtract things from my life. I need to find room—make room for You. Forgive me for having such a full life that sometimes it seems as if there is no place for You. Dear God, thanks for giving me the impetus to de-clutter. I pray You can help us choose those things that aren’t necessary, or need to go. Thanks for the help! In Your name we pray, amen.